A Princeton University study found that people judge others within one tenth of a second of meeting them.
How long do you think it takes them to get a first impression of your listing?
The answer, of course, is not very long. That’s why curb appeal, how your listing looks from the perspective of a passerby, is crucial to successful property marketing.
In order to help agents from all walks of life get the most bang for their curb appeal buck, we put together this list of the best curb appeal ideas for every budget:
Curb Appeal Ideas for $100–$500
While many homeowners get the idea that investing in their home’s curb appeal can help it sell faster and for more money, not everyone will get it. Some homeowners might want to just do the bare minimum, or might not have enough cash on hand to invest in larger scale projects.
If you’re working rentals, small landlords and management companies might balk at the idea of spending any money at all.
That means many agents have to make do with less. In order to see that you don’t need to spend $10,000 to have a dramatic effect on your listing’s curb appeal, here are a few upgrades you can do for $100 or less.
1. Upgrade Dated Door Hardware
Since the hardware is the focal point of most doors, cheap hardware will make even the nicest door look cheap. That means paying attention to the knocker, handles, peephole, or other door hardware can help spruce up the door and improve your clients’ first impressions.
If you or your contractor have a bit of DIY knowledge, you may even be able to go with vintage hardware to complement an historic home.
2. Paint the Front Door
Color is another crucial design element for your entryway. A dirty, dull, beige front door looks uninviting and drab. A bright yellow door, like the one above, is energizing, friendly, and welcoming. To get a sense of what color will work best with your listing, check out what the neighbors are doing or spend some time looking for inspiration on Pinterest.
3. Upgrade Porch Lighting Fixtures
After you’ve spruced up the front door, the next logical area to improve is the lighting. Even during the day, the right lighting fixtures can dramatically change the look and feel of your entryway.
They’re also surprisingly easy to install. In most cases, you just need to turn off the electricity, remove the old fixture, wire up the new one, and screw it to the wall. Then, voila, you have a lovely new element for your entry and more dramatic lighting at for dusk and evening showings.
4. Create Seating Area on the Porch
Whether the porch is open, covered, or enclosed, many homeowners either ignore or use their front porches for storage. This is a huge mistake, as front porches make a perfect place for a relaxing seating or even dining area.
This can be as easy as moving some furniture from the back deck to the front, or you can go all out and look for a secondhand table, chairs, or other comfy porch furniture.
5. Add Potted Plants, Flowers, or Small Trees
Potted plants are a great way to spruce up an entryway, stoop, or porch quickly, cheaply, and easily. All you need to do is move or purchase plants that will complement your entryway. In the image above, the homeowner chose interesting looking cacti in order to bring even more drama to an already dramatic entryway.
Having a green entryway is especially important for improving your curb appeal in the summertime. If you’re looking for summer-specific tips, check out this great guide from our friends over at Fortune Builders.
6. Buy a New Doormat
Don’t forget the doormat! A fresh, new doormat will make guests feel more welcome, as well as give them an opportunity to wipe their feet on rainy or snowy days. While this might not make a massive difference, together with some of the other curb appeal ideas on this page, a nice new doormat will make a nice addition to your entryway.
7. Paint Window & Door Trim
With a paintbrush, some enamel paint, and a drop cloth, you can add some contrast and panache to your entryway by painting the trim on the doors and windows. Just remember that the taping and prep will always take longer than the painting, so be prepared to spend a bit more for labor for painting intricate trim or picture frame windows.
8. Add Some Birdhouses or Bird Feeders
In addition to looking cute, birdhouses and bird feeders have the added bonus of attracting birds. Imagine you’re with a buyer and a hummingbird stops by for a quick snack, or a bluebird stops in for a drink.
9. Paint, Restain, or Seal the Porch
Painting, restaining, or sealing the front porch can also add a lot of curb appeal to your listing. Just remember to choose colors carefully. It helps to plan out the color theme for your door, trim, siding, and porch all at once before you start painting. A fresh coat of paint will also help hide imperfections in the wood.
10. Paint Shutters
Shutters, even if they’re just decorative, are a great way to add contrast to the front of your listing. If the paint is worn or no longer works with your color scheme, sprucing them up can be a quick, easy way to make a big improvement to your curb appeal.
11. Add an Instant Touch of Color With Potted Flowers
Since you probably won’t have a planting season to get your homeowner’s listing ready to show, potted flowers are a cheap and easy way to get the same effect quickly. You can also be creative with different kinds of pots, or even use baskets or woven bags like the example above.
12. Add New House Numbers
Once of the cheapest ideas on the list, new house numbers make a great improvement because it’s generally the first thing people who are hunting for your address see! If also shows that you pay attention to detail, which can only boost their confidence!
13. Trim Overgrown Bushes & Trees
Unless you’re going for a Grey Gardens look, trimming hedges, bushes, and trees is a must when trying to get top dollar for your listing. Even better, this is generally something your homeowner can do themselves or with the help of a local gardener.
You can also trim away branches from trees and overgrown bushes that block windows. This will help get more light to the interior, which is always a good thing!
14. Replace the Mailbox
Since they’re right out front and often have the house number on them, mailboxes are an easy fix to help improve curb appeal. You also don’t have to replace the whole thing. Sometimes you can just replace the box itself instead of the entire post.
Curb Appeal Ideas for $500–$1,500
A bit more expensive, these ideas are for homes with high listing prices or homes that need a little extra something to get to market price.
15. Add a Porch Swing
Who doesn’t love a porch swing? This one will work like a charm for urban exiles or retirees looking for a slice of the good life! Add some wind chimes, a small table with lemonade, and you’ll have them daydreaming about lazy summer Sundays on their front porch in no time flat.
16. Reseal or Replace Gravel in Driveway
Because it’s purely functional, many people overlook just how much front yard space a driveway actually takes up. If it’s in poor condition, that certainly doesn’t bode well for the rest of the house. A quick reseal or gravel delivery can reassure passersby that your listing is well maintained and read to move into!
17. Power Washing
Sometimes you don’t know how grimy your stoop or patios are until you drag out the power washer. Who knows, you may discover beautiful granite pavers or perfect condition cobblestones after a quick power washing.
18. Cover Up Concrete With Natural Slate Tiles
Although replacing pavers can be prohibitively expensive, you may be surprised to learn that earthy, unique natural slate tiles are actually surprisingly affordable. Tiles that are 12×12 can be had for less than $2 per square foot at Home Depot.
You can go all out and professionally replace a walkway like this example, or just use them to create a garden pathway that looks a little nicer than cheap concrete pavers.
19. Make or Buy Window Shutters
If your listing doesn’t already have shutters, you can buy pre-made ones or build new ones with a contractor for less than you might expect. Even though they’ll be purely decorative, they’re a great way to break up the monotony of the exterior of a home. I wish more builders would add them.
20. Create a Front Yard Seating or Gardening Area
If you have a large enough front yard, why not carve out a little seating or gardening area? You do it on the cheap with say, a bird bath, some nicer chairs, and a small table.
21. Small Garden Around the Mailbox
Replacing the mailbox is great, but if you truly want to impress your potential clients, pay special attention to the plantings around the mailbox. Just make sure they’re local and seasonally appropriate.
22. Install Window Boxes
Nothing says homey and cute like some window boxes overflowing with bright, happy flowers. While they’re not super difficult to build or install, if you’re going custom, it’s probably a good idea to hire a pro. After all, you’re dealing with moisture, weight, and possibly animal life on your window sills!
23. Decorate the Entry With Potted Plants or Trees
If you’re not lucky enough to have a listing with a shady entryway, you can always head out to your local home center and buy some cool-looking potted plants or small trees to bring some gravitas to your listing’s entryway.
24. Fence in Garbage Cans or Central AC Unit
There’s nothing worse than looking at someone else’s garbage. Of course, we hope you’ll convince your homeowner to not leave garbage out, but what about the garbage cans? What about that big ugly AC unit?
Instead of leaving it to chance, some cheap vinyl fencing pieces can cover up unsightly garbage cans or AC units in a matter of minutes. As an added bonus, fences are one of the easiest ways to add value to a home.
Curb Appeal Ideas for $1,500–$10,000
Sometimes a listing needs more help than most to sell where you need it to. It’s either old and crumbling in a neighborhood full of fresh new construction, or it’s pricey enough where home buyers expect nothing less.
Just remember to have a frank discussion with your homeowner that recouping expenses here may be tricky. In some cases, you can increase prices a bit to cover the difference, or if you play your cards right and do an amazing job, you may find yourself with a bidding war on your hands.
25. Paint the Home’s Exterior
Nothing can change the way a home feels from the street more dramatically than fresh coat of paint! Just imagine the home above painted brown or grey. The only problem here is working with your homeowner to choose the color that will sell instead of repel.
Amazingly, Zillow actually has you covered! According to their research of more than 32,000 sold homes, they found that homes with an exterior painted “greige” sold for $3,496 more than homes that were painted medium-brown or with tan stucco.
Speaking of Zillow, did you know that buyer’s agents can swipe your leads if you’re not a Premier Agent? If you want to get the leads you deserve for your listing, click below to visit Zillow to find out how.
26. Replace Front Door & Sidelights
If you need to make a big change, a new door and sidelights can’t be beat. You’ll not only have a fresh new look to your home’s main focal point, but you can increase the light in your entryway indoors as well. That’s a win/win in my book.
27. Replace Roof
One of the banes of a homeowner’s existence is the roof. They’re expensive to maintain, expensive to replace, and a bad roof can lead to even more expensive water damage if left alone. That’s why roof replacement can actually have a pretty decent return on investment (ROI) for your homeowner and help the listing sell faster.
28. Repoint Bricks for Brick or Cobblestone Driveway or Patio
If you’re lucky enough to have a listing with a brick or cobblestone driveway or front patio, then you should make sure it looks great for your showings. A quick repointing and power washing can make even the tattiest old bricks look brand new.
29. Replace Outdated Siding
Siding is like fashion. For some reason it starts to look dated quicker than your iPhone. In order to show your clients a tasteful front, replacing the siding can have a huge impact on how the home looks.
Even better, some brick homes in cities got covered up with nasty vinyl siding in the 1980s. If you have a listing like this, tearing it off and repointing the brick can put your listing in another price point!
30. Rebuild Fences & Gates
Tumble-down fences and crooked gates are a sign of only one thing for your clients. Decay. To prove your listing is a fresh, vibrant place to live and raise a family, replacing broken fence posts and gates is a must.
Curb Appeal Ideas With Best Overall ROI
Unless you have a very rare and sought-after property, the odds of profiting from your curb appeal projects are low. Construction costs are high, material costs are high, and in many markets, homes are priced very similarly.
While some markets might allow large price increases from minor repairs and aesthetic improvements, investing money in curb appeal can be a gamble.
In order to reduce your risk, you might want to stick to the curb appeal ideas that have a proven ROI. Here are the two curb appeal ideas with the best ROI according to a recent study by Remodeling.com.
31. Manufactured Stone Veneer
Manufactured stone veneer is one of the most popular and cost-effective ways to make your listing look far more expensive than it is. Using thin slices of natural rock or molded cement, stone veneers mimic the look and feel of extremely expensive stone or brick construction.
The idea here is not to fool your home inspector or contractor, but to give your listing a luxurious appearance at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction techniques.
Stone veneer is also very versatile. It can be used to add gravitas to a traditional home like the one above, or used on accent walls, stair treads, or even concrete retaining walls.
While stone veneer projects can vary from covering an entire home to just the columns on a front porch, the study ranked it as having the best return on investment of any curb appeal project at 97.1%.
32. Garage Door Replacement
According to Heather Meiner, Brand Manager for Overhead Door, on average, homeowners nationwide can obtain up to a 98% return on investment for their garage door replacements.
While Heather may be biased, the data from the Remodeling.com study actually backs up her claim. In fact, they named garage door replacement as the curb appeal project that has the highest ROI nationwide at a whopping 98.3% and at a relatively affordable cost of around $3,500.
This won’t come as much of a shock when you see before and after photos like the one above. Unlike stone veneer, a replacement garage door also adds functionality and light to your garage.
The difference a high-end-looking garage door can make on your listing’s curb appeal can’t be overstated. Here’s another before and after pic from Overhead Garage Door:
Luxury Property Curb Appeal Ideas From Warburg Realty Agents
Founded in 1896, Warburg Realty has been a fixture of Manhattan luxury real estate through market booms, busts, and everything in between. This heritage gives Warburg agents a unique perspective on the market, and one of our go-to’s for luxury real estate marketing advice.
In order to broaden out our list, we worked with top producing Warburg agents to walk us through how curb appeal works in the Big Apple.
“Buyers want to do as little work as possible, so anything that can be done to make a property look attractive and create curb appeal pays dividends and gets your home sold in a timely fashion.
“Neutralize colorful homes. This can be done in so many ways, such as swapping out decorative pillows and a throw on a dark-colored sofa, using white bedding and white fluffy towels in the bathrooms, and putting out white and green flowers.
“Lighting has a significant impact on the mood and feel of a home. Make sure that all of the lights work, replace all non-functional bulbs, and make sure that all of the lights are the same color and shade (e.g., not too yellow, not to white, and so on).
“If something looks really dated, there’s usually a band-aid fix to update the look without spending a lot. For example, replacing light fixtures and cabinetry hardware can update the look of a space without investing a lot of capital or effort.
“Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving a property a small ‘facelift’ to create curb appeal, which gets it sold quickly!”
“Let the light shine in! Clean those windows and make them spotless. It really does make a big difference as to how a space is perceived. A potential buyer may not be aware of exactly why they are perceiving a radiance in a space, but spotless windows enhance the quality of light, sharpen the view, and add a radiance.
“Green is the color of money, and if you want more for your property but have a dingy brown lawn, no problem—they now have lawn paint that a homeowner can spray on the lawn to green-it-up! It’s all about curb appeal!
“Warm up that patio with a fire pit. A few chairs and side tables paired with a ready-made fire pit will create a warm, cozy inviting space in a backyard that is lacking details. It’s a quick fix with a high visual impact, and you can order everything online and have it delivered.”
“You only have one chance to make a good first impression with buyers coming to see a newly listed property. There are basic, easy, and inexpensive ways to do this. The entrance of the home is the first thing a persons’ eyes will gravitate to, so it is important it looks great.
“1. Entrance door: If the entrance door and frame are worn and dated, paint them. Also replace the door handle with a new one that is up to date. These simple and quick fixes to an entrance door make a major impact.
“2. Steps or pathway leading to entrance door: Make sure it is clean and tidy. A power wash will do wonders! Also place planters with flowers or big plants. This gives the entrance a look of a well-kept home and not one that is abandoned. A home should ooze pride.
“3. Windows: Clean windows are essential. If everything else looks great and the windows are dirty, it dampers the overall look of the home.
“4. Gutters: Make sure gutters are clean and not hanging from the side. If you can, replace them with new shiny ones!
“5. Roof: Although this is a big expense, it will ultimately help your home sell better and quicker. If you roof is in need of replacement, make the investment.
“6. Outdoor lighting: A new outdoor lamp with LED lights will make the entrance look well lit, bright, and safe. If you have a garden, placing garden lights strategically will give a beautiful look to your garden and home.”
“I heartily concur on all of these, especially new door numbers. It’s not just the first impression, but the mood buyers are in when they arrive. If they are annoyed because they can’t find the address, you are off on the wrong foot before they’ve found parking. The very first thing buyers see is the address—they’ve been driving down the block, crossing their fingers, hoping this is the one! So make the numbers easy to find, and give them color. Then use the same color for some potted plants and porch cushions, and buyers are in love before they have gotten out of the car.”
“1. Make sure the sidewalk, the awning, and the building façade are clean (this is “curb appeal” in the true sense of the term).
“2. Make sure the hallways are well-lit and the carpets are clean.
“3. Make sure there is no clutter in the apt.
“4. Make sure the floors are polished.”
“When working with New York City apartments, we are unable to do anything about the outside of a building. The next best thing, in my experience, is to treat the entry foyer as if it is the curb.
“Buyers know in the first minute when they are not going to buy an apartment. I like to make their first minute exciting. Many of the ideas used for the outside apply to the entry foyer as well.
“1. The first thing is to paint the foyer a great color. There are generally no windows in the entrance so the color cannot be too dark, but it can be bold and bright. Often with a bold color, painting only one wall a dramatic shade will do the trick. The other walls should be a fresh, clean white.
“2. The next thing is to get an inexpensive but interesting light fixture with several bulbs and a dimmer. Decide on the amount of light that works and keep the dimmer in that position when showing.
“3. A large, inexpensive framed poster should be opposite the front door so that it is the first thing that one sees when they open the door.
“4. A bench under the poster can be nice so that the buyer can sit down to remove their shoes, if that is what is requested. They can also put their shoes under the bench, which will keep the foyer neat.”
“What I automatically do in an empty estate apartment is paint it white and sand the wooden floors. I even change the hardware ($1 each) on the existing built-ins. This gives the old apartment a semi-facelift.
“When selling a poorly furnished resale, I like to add my own touches with a beautiful orchid and toss some fabulous, neutral-colored pillows on the shabby couch. I also add fresh hand towels in the bathrooms and even a new bedspread over the existing dingy one. All this simple curb appeal staging costs hardly any money, but it gives the apartment a fresh look!”
“I would like to add to tip #7 about painting window trim. While it is certainly a nice touch to paint the window trim on the outside of a home, in New York City, owners have more control over the inside of their property as opposed to the outside, which is handled by the co-op or condominium. With that said, interior windows that have dark trim deserve a paint job in preparation for listing an apartment for sale. By painting the frame a lighter color, it offers a clean and softer look, which appeals more to buyers than a harsh dark trim.
“A buyer recently came to my open house and after walking through the apartment, she said, ‘I like the space but that dark trim around the windows has to go.’ She was right.”
“Having curb appeal is arguably one of the most powerful ways to get potential buyers through the front door. First impressions are everything—and whether it is a new listing or one that needs a refresh, there are two tricks I frequently suggest customers consider. First, a fresh coat of white paint can go a long way. Not only does it provide a blank canvas for a potential buyer to envision their future home, but it gives a listing a fresh, mint-condition impression. Secondly, plants. Nothing adds life to a listing than seasonal planters and arrangements to give color and fragrance to a home. Not only can these cost-effective home improvements provide potential buyers with a great first impression, but they can also add to the sale value through a persuasive marketing campaign.”
Over to You
Have a great curb appeal idea we missed or a fun story about getting a better price for a listing you improved the curb appeal on? Let us know in the comments.